Andrew Curtis produces images of suburban dissonance by blurring physical and psychological reality. Using our shared knowledge and preconceptions of suburbia, he questions contemporary notions of anomie, the abject and the exotic. Recurrent motifs are the shadow and anachronistic signs of cultural appropriation, significantly the Monkey Puzzle tree (Araucaria Araucana), used to decorate Victorian suburbia, and now a reminder of British colonial activity in the nineteenth century.
In a brand new show, organised by PayneShurvell at the House of St Barnabas Curtis presents ‘Head of a Man 1’ and ‘Head of Man 2′ where he paints the background space of Nigel Henderson’s ‘Head of a Man’ (1956) in thinned household enamel over large-format monochrome photographs of a colonialist’s exotic winter garden, built in Eltham in the 1880s. Funded by self-made millionaire ‘Colonel’ John Thomas, the winter garden was made to bring ‘taste’ to the masses of south London, from which a post-war suburb grew. These works are the exact dimensions of Henderson’s original collage on board and the photographs were taken by Joolz Ingram following Andrew Curtis’s instructions.
Two works from Curtis’s latest series ‘Universal Reproductions’ are unique screen prints on plasterboard, using appropriated archive images from the plaster cast collection at the Crystal Palace in Sydenham. The casts depicted were made using a reproductive sculptural process with the purpose of providing greater access to great works to improve public taste in art and design. Curtis’s use of plasterboard as substrate for his printed reproductions of these images, a readily available DIY material, questions the authenticity of this prescribed experience and its accretion in the gardens and public spaces that we inhabit.
ANDREW CURTIS: SELECTED WORKS 2 June – 26 July 2014 Presented by PayneShurvell at the House of St Barnabas1 Greek Street, Soho Square, London, W1D 4NQ